Westmont Men’s Basketball (8-3, 2-1 GSAC) had a frustrating night in Santa Clarita on Wednesday, as the Warriors fell to The Master’s (6-3, 1-2) by a score of 71-60. After being held to only 31 points in the first half, Westmont followed up with only 29 points in the second, ultimately finishing with their lowest point total since February of 2018.
The Mustang’s defense held Westmont to a field goal percentage of 32.8% (21-64), which was nearly 25% lower than the team’s season average coming into the night (56.5%). TMU locked down Westmont from beyond the arc as well, where the Warriors came in shooting 47.8% as a team. Tonight, Westmont made only five of 24 shots from 3-point range.
“It felt like we were lucky to get 60 points, as crazy as that sounds,” said Westmont head coach Landon Boucher. “It was the first time we’ve played in an environment like that and we have a bunch of junior college guys who haven’t seen an environment like that since high school. The environment wore on us tonight and inhibited us from being on the same page on both ends of the floor.
“These are growing pains that we’re feeling right now and I knew we’d go through this at some point in the season. It’s a bummer that it’s at Master’s, but hopefully we can learn from the negatives, because I don’t know if there were many positives tonight.”
In a tone-setting first half for Westmont, it took the Warriors nearly eight minutes to break into double-digits. When Tone Patton Sr. hit Westmont’s first 3-pointer of the game, the Warriors trailed TMU 11-10 with 12:25 to play in the period.
Including Patton’s lone make from beyond the arc, Westmont made only one of their first 10 shots from three-point land, allowing the Mustangs to build a nine-point advantage with five minutes remaining in the half. The lid finally came off the basket in the half’s final minutes, as threes from Jalen Townsell, Anthony McIntyre, and Drew Ramirez allowed Westmont to keep within striking distance.
Leading 32-31 entering the final minute of the period, TMU capped off their energetic first half with a five-point run and a back-breaking 3-pointer. The Mustangs missed their first eight shots from downtown, but as time expired in the half, Caleb Lowry drained a 3-pointer to send TMU into the locker room with momentum, and a 37-31 advantage.
In the second half, Westmont never got back within five. Westmont scored only four points during the first five minutes of the half, when at the same time, The Master’s stretched their lead quickly to 15 points. Westmont stayed on the outskirts of striking distance for the next five minutes, cutting the deficit to 54-45 with just under 10 minutes to play.
On the ensuing possession, however, The Master’s hit another 3-pointer for what felt like an early dagger, putting TMU up 57-45 with 8:25 to play. For an exclamation point, with five minutes to play, The Master’s hit back-to-back 3-pointers to go up a game-high 16 points at 65-49.
Minutes later, the Mustangs held off the Warriors for an early-season momentum-building 71-60 win.
“I’m hopeful we can learn from the negatives and be better in big games,” reflected Boucher. “This was a big game and an important game, as every league game is. Especially a rivalry game like this, we need to be better in this situation.
“This is an important moment in our season where we need to come together. This is the first time all year where we’ve really had any kind of adversity, and I’m hoping we can come together as a team and bounce back with our days off.”
The Warriors now have an eight day break in-between contests, with their next game scheduled for Thursday against Hope International. After Thursday’s game in Fullerton, Westmont returns to Santa Barbara on Saturday, Dec. 10 to host the Vanguard Lions.
Jacob Norling is the sports information assistant at Westmont College.